A Campus Away From Campus

While Holy Cross has a wonderful campus with essentially unlimited extracurricular opportunities, I do have to admit that sometimes you develop that need to get away from campus for a few hours. Thankfully, the college has its very own retreat center less than 25 minutes away!

Holy Cross’s retreat center, the Joyce Contemplative Center, presents students with an amazing opportunity to get away from what can sometimes be a busy campus and simply slow things down to reflect on life. Located on a hilltop that overlooks gorgeous hills and a waterway, the JCC always offers an amazing sunset for students to look at! Most of the college’s retreats are held at the JCC. There are retreats for first-year students, the LGBTQ+ community, as well as a variety of other retreats that offer amazing opportunities. I definitely recommend trying to get to the JCC at least once during your first year at Holy Cross!

On a snowy day in February, I and my Montserrat classmates piled into school vans at Hogan to make the journey to the JCC. While pulling up the driveway our gaze was met with a beautiful contemporary building that just screamed: “forget about all your classes for an hour and just relax!” In the snow and cold, we all dashed to the entrance where we were greeted by a cozy crackling fireplace and a spacious dining room. On the left side of the building, there were hotel rooms for overnight retreats and there was a beautiful fully glass contemplation room that overlooks the surrounding nature located in the back of the building where we ended up performing our group presentations.

The main attraction for students is not just the beautiful building, the serene campus, or the escape from coursework. No, what do college students love almost more than anything else? FOOD of course! The JCC is renowned for dishing out some of the tastiest meals every single crusader has ever experienced in their lives. My meal was no different. With chicken parm as the main course with fresh veggies, salad, pasta, and garlic bread as sides I was stuffed. Oh wait, did I forget to mention that they also have freshly baked cookies for dessert?

Whether it’s for the retreat, the beautiful building, the serene campus, or the food; I can’t recommend going to the JCC at least once during your freshmen year!

An aerial shot of the Joyce Contemplative Center during the fall
A view of the deck of the JCC that overlooks the surrounding nature
Take a virtual tour of the JCC!

Hitting the Airwaves with a Bang!

Starting Off with a Bang!

Despite radio being in decline around the country, it is surely not dead at college campuses around the nation, especially at Holy Cross! Throughout the day and night students across campus tune into 88.1FM WCHC to listen to a host of shows created by their very own peers! Holy Cross provides a wide array of shows for everyone’s taste; ranging from sports talk to politics to just your regular music genre station!

A common scene on weeknights is a group of students gathering around a Bluetooth speaker in the common rooms of the dorms listening to the shows of their friends while doing work. Even members of the local Worcester community tune into the station at various times through the stereo systems of their cars. The Holy Cross radio station serves as a way to foster a greater sense of community on campus among the students. Students even have the opportunity to call into a dedicated phone line to be a part of the show themselves!

Essentially, any student has the opportunity to have their very own radio show if they are dedicated enough! All it takes is simply emailing the director to receive training to make sure you are able to operate the equipment and are aware of the FCC rules and regulations.

I was honored this past week by being selected as the first guest on Holy Cross’s very own Jacob Carey’s Sadboi Hours, held on Thursday nights at 11 PM.  The show is dedicated to emotional music that allows individuals to express their feelings. However, the show also features segments that range from pop-culture talk to humorous storying telling that is sure to evoke laughter from everyone listening.

The first airing of the show was received with applause by the greater Holy Cross community. People were posting videos of themselves and friends alike laughing at the commentary of the hosts on their SnapChat stories and other social media platforms.  Upon our return to our dorm building, Jacob and I were met by a gaggle of friends that were ecstatic at the first of many shows to come!

The logo of Sadboi Hours with Jake and Friends
The founder of the show, Jacob Carey

Invasion of the Guest Speakers

Hand in hand with the arrival of second semester on campus comes the arrival of guest speakers sponsored by the McFarland Center. Every couple of weeks the McFarland Center allows students the opportunity to interact with individuals who have shaped the society we live in. Events usually include a 45-minute lecture by the guest speaker followed with time for questions and interacting with the guest. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you may even be chosen to attend a dinner with faculty, staff, and the very lecturer themselves! Have you ever wanted to meet an award-winning author? A distinguished researcher? A famous politician or social activist? The McFarland center brings these very people onto campus in order to give students the opportunity to learn from these individuals in real time, not just through the articles written about them!

The McFarland Center started the semester off with a bang by bringing famed historian Jill Lepore to campus for a talk about “The Rise and Fall of Fact.” Jill Lepore attracted such a crowd that students had to lean against the wall to hear here lecture after all available seats were taken up! Lepore presented on the history of the fact, educating the entire audience on when, why, and how journalism evolved throughout history. After her lecture, Lepore spent a generous amount of time masterfully answering the audience’s questions and doing book signings before heading off to dinner, which I graciously had the opportunity to attend. Getting to eat and talk with the famed historian was a once in a lifetime opportunity that any Holy Cross student would have jumped at the opportunity to have. Talking with Lepore about her time growing up in West Boylston and critical topics such as the state of journalism was an amazing experience.

The McFarland Center also brought former Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to campus where he spoke about the moral and ethical dilemmas associated with the refugee crisis that the world is experiencing. There was outstanding attendance as the Rehm Library was quickly filled up with students to the point where students were sitting on the floor to just hear from the former Chief of Staff. McDonough lectured about how the refugee system operates while including personal stories that highlight just how important refugees are to the country. McDonough appeared to be one of the more lax speakers, effortlessly tossing out jokes that never failed to get the student body to chuckle.

With more guest speakers scheduled the McFarland Center is sure to continue providing these amazing opportunities to students for the rest of the school year!

Jill Lepore lectures students about the “Rise and Fall of the Fact”
Former Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough lectures students about the refugee crisis.

Off to Coast Guard!

Opportunities at Holy Cross 

One of the best things about being a student at Holy Cross it that you are handed a nearly unlimited amount of opportunities to travel somewhere, whether it be for an immersion trip or a sports game you are bound to leave campus for an interesting place!

In my case, my very first HC sponsored trip came with the annual mock trial trip to the Coast Guard Academy for a regional invitational tournament. Everyone on Friday night gathered in Hogan 3 and packed themselves into the school vans for the hour and a half journey to New London, Connecticut.

The Trip

On the way, my teammates and I sang along to 2000 throwback playlists and talked about how the first half of the semester has gone for us all so far.  Once we arrived at the hotel we excitedly grabbed our bags from the vans and ran to our hotel rooms where we unpacked. Shortly afterward it looked as though the hotel lobby had been turned into a classroom, the mock trial team had completely taken over it with casebooks, exhibits, and other various materials taking up the space on the lobby tables as we all practiced our examinations.

First Day of Competition

The morning quickly came, eventually leading to us arriving at the Coast Guard Academy and signing in for our first competition against Fordham. While we didn’t win our first couple of trials, the learning experiencing was amazing for everyone on my team as no one on the team had any previous collegiate mock trial experience before, we were all rookies!

As the day began to settle we explored the wonderful Coast Guard Academy campus (only second to the beautiful campus we have right here at Holy Cross).  Once we drove back to the hotel we had about five minutes to change before we were treated out to a night at a wonderful restaurant that had some of the most delicious pizza and cake that I have ever tasted.  At the dinner table, all of the players and coaches conversed about the activities of the day and quickly moved on to talking about other various things such as career advice and general funny stories.

Second Day of Competition

On the second day of the competition, the entire team walked into the halls of the competition with a new found confidence as we saw that even us as rookies could put up a good fight against teams that were full of veterans who had been doing collegiate mock trial for three years.

On the second day of competition, we actually ended up winning a couple of trials and generally overachieving for a whole group of rookies at a competition with well-seasoned talent!

The Tournament in Review

Looking back at the tournament, while it was stressful at certain points due to the high stakes manner of the tournament, I ended up having so much fun with all of the people across the mock trial team. I encourage anyone reading this to check out mock trial if you get the chance as you’ll make friends for life and learn lots of helpful skills along the way!

Off into an Entire New World

What does one feel as they go off into a whole new world at Holy Cross as an incoming freshmen? 

 

As my mother’s minivan drives up Mount Saint James a rush of emotions goes through this new member of the Crusader family. Anxiety, excitement, and curiosity are all swirling around inside of me. The line of first year student’s cars finally begins to move and before I know it I’m greeted by Holy Cross students who politely tell me where to actually find my dorm building, something that I was actually quite nervous about. Continuing the journey up the hill the line of first year cars are surrounded by members of the Holy Cross student body holding and twirling welcome signs, cheering all of us on in our adventure toward college life. A few minutes pass and my mother pulls up in front of my new home for the 2018-2019 year, Hanselman.

I nervously open the passenger side door, and am greeted by some of the friendliest  people I have ever met in my life. I tell them my name and they hand me a folder while walking me through everything I need to know for moving in. Now, many of you who are still in high school may picture the hectic move-in day rush of several trips back and forth from the car to your room. Not at Holy Cross though! I was immediately assisted by an army of Holy Cross students singing and jamming out to a Bluetooth speaker as they bring all of my belongings to my room.

 

Meeting the Roommates

As I unpack all my clothes and belongings, both of my roommates enter and introduce themselves. They’ve already been on campus for a few weeks as they are both on sports teams, so after assisting me with putting everything away they give me the lay of the land, showing me the best study spots, informing of me which coffee shops have the best coffee, and helping me find where all my classes will be held. These two strangers who I had only known for a mere hour soon became some of my best friends on campus to this day. Something that the incoming college freshmen fails to realize until it hits them in the face is that social life at college is quite different from high school. No one knows what they are doing, and barely anyone knows each other. Due to this everyone seemingly comes together to help and support everyone through any difficulties that may arise as we are all just trying to survive in this new world that is so unknown to us.